Michelle Obama refers to childhood obesity as the tobacco of the 21st century. I agree. Obesity is quickly overtaking smoking as the nation’s No. 1 killer. As a pediatrician who sees firsthand the impact of overweight and obese children, we need to have conversations with our patient families that focus on obesity as a clinical issue. Right now, this isn’t happening. The rate of missed diagnosis for childhood obesity is over 95 percent, ...

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Lying in a hospital bed, my seriously obese patient can barely see her swollen and odorous right foot over her abdominal fat. The foot is soon to be amputated, the result of an untreatable infection exacerbated by diabetes and kidney failure, which developed in part because of obesity. Her two children, ages 6 and 12, hover from the hospital bed to the couch. In between, the bedside table is strewed with ...

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I’ve been involved in several boisterous Twitter debates about vaccines, at least to the extent that one can debate using snippets of 140 characters or less. I’ve also been a "super moderator" at a very large Internet message board for many years and have seen my share of passionate vaccine debates there. I’ve been a pediatrician for over 30 years and trained in the subspecialty of pediatric infectious diseases before ...

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The statistics tell us that our children are getting sicker and sicker. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has more than tripled in just 20 years: It is now diagnosed in 11 percent of all kids, and in an astounding 20 percent of teenage boys. Autism is also on a rapid rise.  The latest reported rate suggests that it occurs in one in every 68 kids -- 20 years ago it ...

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You know those little packets of paper, folded over eight times, written in type that can’t possibly be seen? You’ve seen them glommed onto the side of stock bottles of medications, or shoved into the paper box alongside a tube of prescription ointment. That unreadable thing is the official “product information,” often called the “label,” required for every FDA-approved medication. It contains all sorts of information, including lists of 
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Headlines soared recently with the CDC report that the number of children with autism diagnoses had increased by 30% in the past 2 years. “Reality is there are many children who are having serious struggles because they can’t communicate well and have a hard time being with people,” Dr. Chuck Cowan clearly stated to me this morning. Like a bell on a quiet night, I feel parents need to hear this most: ...

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A large number of pediatric practices these days use after-hours call centers for parents who have questions about a sick child. I’ve been looking around to find some data about how common this is, but my sense is that the majority of pediatricians use them. There is no question these call centers make live easier for the doctor; having somebody screen the calls, answer easy questions, and only call you ...

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There is nothing more disheartening for a physician than watching a patient die from a preventable cause. And, of course, the loss for the family involved is unimaginable. But it’s important, especially for parents, to understand the potential consequences of preventable, infectious diseases. Here’s a scenario doctors across the country are witnessing first-hand: A 2-year-old girl develops what seems like a cold. Over the next several days, her breathing rate increases. At ...

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From MedPage Today:

  1. Brain Structure Disrupted in Autistic Kids. Autopsied brains of autistic children showed "patches of disorganization" not seen in otherwise healthy children.
  2. Weight-Loss Surgery: It's Not Just About Stomach Size. An increase in bile acids, not just smaller stomach size, helps promote weight loss and better glucose control after vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG).
  3. Small, Frequent Meals Don't Rev Metabolism. Dieters ...

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As a pediatrician, I encourage families to search online for health advice. Yet how you search and where you click matters. Tips for you and your time with “Dr. Google” or “Surgeon Bing.” The Pew Internet Project’s research finds that over 70% of Internet users in the United States say they have looked online for health information in the last year. Furthermore, most health information seekers (ie freaked out parents searching ...

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